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Serena Williams averaged the most aces per women’s singles match on this year’s WTA Tour but the 21-time Grand Slam champion did not top the overall list and one rates her as a false odds-on favourite to rank first on next year’s chart.
Some bookmakers have framed three-option markets on next year’s WTA Tour women’s singles aces leader, with many favouring Williams over Karolina Pliskova and any other woman. Installing Williams as the favourite for any WTA Tour women’s singles performance market is the default position of any bookmaker and, more often than not over the years, the American has justified her short odds. However, one cannot recommend backing Williams at odds on to send down more aces than every one of her WTA Tour women’s singles rivals as she enters the final stage of her career.
Williams has not played since losing 6-2 4-6 4-6 to Roberta Vinci in the WTA US Open women’s singles semi-finals three months ago. The three-set loss to Vinci, who was making her Grand Slam women’s singles semi-final debut at the age of 32, hit Williams hard because victories over Vinci and another Italian player without a major final appearance under her belt, Flavia Pennetta, was all that stood between the American and winning each of the four biggest events in the same calendar year, something that Maureen Connolly Brinker achieved in 1953, Margaret Court achieved in 1970 and Steffi Graf achieved in 1988. It was the closest that Williams had come to completing an annual Grand Slam.
Earlier this month, Williams confirmed that her 2016 target is the Grand Slam. Williams will celebrate her 35th birthday in September so it is reasonable to say that she is running out of opportunities to win the WTA Australian Open women’s singles, WTA French Open women’s singles, WTA Wimbledon women’s singles and WTA US Open women’s singles in the same year. The likes of Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza and Pliskova are improving with every 12 months and Williams, well, she is approaching middle age. One would not be at all surprised to see Williams limit her tournaments in 2016 and she only started 16 events in 2015 – 10 fewer than Pliskova.
Never has Williams been the most active of women’s singles players. In 2015, Williams finished with a 53-3 record in WTA Tour women’s singles action. Only once has Williams played more than 62 WTA Tour women’s singles matches in a year and that was in 2013 when she ended with a 78-4 record. Williams have played an average of 57 WTA Tour women’s singles matches over the last five years and an average of 48.9 WTA Tour women’s singles matches over the last 10 years. One would expect Williams to play fewer than 60 WTA Tour women’s singles matches in 2016, with a good chance of the 34-year-old featuring in fewer than 50 contests.
Recent history suggests that Williams will do very well to average more than eight aces per WTA Tour women’s singles match in 2016 so one is going to put her in for a maximum of 480 aces, with a sub-400 total not out of the question. And that is why Williams rates a bad bet at odds of -120 with Ladbrokes to be the WTA Tour women’s singles aces leader.
Pliskova served 517 aces in her 79 WTA Tour women’s singles matches in 2015, finishing 19 aces in front of Williams. Pliskova is not one of the WTA Tour women’s singles fastest servers – she ranked 16th on that list last year – but she hits the lines better than any of her peers. Pliskova has been a WTA Tour women’s singles aces gun ever since becoming a regular on the circuit and, keen to establish herself in the top 10, one can bank on her playing many more events – and, hopefully, many more matches – than Williams in 2016.
PaddyPower is offering odds of +125 about Pliskova serving the most aces in WTA Tour women’s singles matches next year when the 23-year-old Czech should be trading at odds on.
Karolina Pliskova Most Aces on WTA Tour 2016
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